NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump exercised Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination when he testified under oath Wednesday in the New York Attorney General’s lengthy civil investigation into his business dealings, he previously said. the president said in a statement.
Trump arrived in a motorcade at the office of Attorney General Letitia James in Manhattan just before 9 a.m. and more than an hour later said, “Under the rights and privileges accorded to every citizen under the United States Constitution, declined to answer the question of
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you adopting the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the statement said. I’m here. “When your family, your company, and everyone around you becomes the target of an unsubstantiated, politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the fake news media, you I have no choice.”
Trump spent more than six hours inside the building before leaving again via motorcade just before 3:30 p.m.
As loudly as Trump has defended himself in written statements and rallies, legal experts say what he said was used against him in a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney. The Fifth Amendment protects people from being forced to be witnesses against themselves in criminal cases. doing.
Still, New York University law professor Steven Gillers said he was surprised given Trump’s previous experience with depositions, the legal term for sworn testimony not given in court.
“Jousting an attorney at a deposition while avoiding lying is something he’s proud of,” Gilliers said. I feared that I would put him in danger.
Trump has taken numerous depositions dating back to his career as a real estate developer. For example, in a lawsuit filed by protesters alleging his security guards trolled them outside Trump Tower in 2015, he said last October, “I’m glad to have had the opportunity to speak to my side. ‘ said.
But Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer 97 questions in his 1990 divorce deposition.
A message was left in James’ office requesting comment.
Wednesday’s events came two days after FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida as part of another federal investigation into whether Trump had classified records as he left the White House. later expanded.
A New York investigation led by James includes allegations that Trump’s firm, the Trump Organization, misled lenders and tax authorities about the value of valuable assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers.
“My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded. “Banana Republic!”
In May, James’ office said it was nearing the end of an investigation into Trump, his company, or both. .
The Attorney General may decide to file a lawsuit seeking financial penalties against Trump or his company, or a ban on engaging in certain types of businesses.
Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, recently filed depositions, according to two people familiar with the matter. People were not allowed to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.
It is unclear whether Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump Jr. invoked the Fifth Amendment. Their brother, Eric Trump, did so more than 500 times during depositions in the same investigation in 2020, according to court documents.
James, a Democrat, said he had “substantial” evidence that Trump’s firm “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain numerous financial benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax credits.” was discovered by her office and filed with the court.
James alleges that the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of its property holdings to impress lenders and misrepresented the value of land to reduce its tax burden.
The company exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, making it nearly three times its actual size, a difference in value of about $200 million, James’ office said.
Mr Trump denied the allegations, arguing that asking for the best possible valuation was common practice in the real estate industry. I am accused of being
Generally, there is no constitutional right to avoid questioning in a civil lawsuit, but Trump’s legal team argued that the district attorney’s parallel investigation created the danger that Trump would face criminal charges, suggesting that James should question him. Attorneys in James’ office assisted in the criminal investigation.
Manhattan Judge Arthur Engolon ruled that James’ office had a “clear right” to question Trump and other principals at his firm, but Trump was barred from questioning because of a criminal case. You also had the right to refuse to answer
That criminal investigation seemed to move toward possible criminal charges, but stalled after the new Democratic district attorney, Alvin Bragg, took office in January. The jury was dismissed. The chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation resigned after Bragg internally questioned the feasibility of the case.
Bragg said his investigation is ongoing.
The district attorney’s investigation has already led to criminal charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
Weisselberg and company attorneys are scheduled to appear in court on Friday and argue that the lawsuit should be dismissed.
Balsamo and Sisak reported from Washington. Associated Press journalist Jill Colvin, who lives in New York, contributed to this report.
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